Netizens question Comelec on Celine Pialago’s House bid under new party

April 5, 2022 - 7:21 PM
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Celine Pialago
MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago poses on this photo uploaded on her Facebook page on Aug. 10, 2020. (Photo from Asec Celine Pialago - MMDA Spokesperson via Facebook)

Some netizens asked the Commission on Elections how a party-list representative hopeful was able to run for the 2022 elections after her party-list was disqualified last January.

In October last year, Celine Pialago, former spokesperson of Metro Manila Development Authority, filed a Certificate of Candidacy as the first nominee of Malasakit Movement.

This party-list, however, was among the groups Comelec rejected in January, prohibiting it to run for the May elections.

A month later, in February, Pialago informed her supporters that she is the nominee of another party-list, the Frontliners Ang Bida Party-list.

The Frontliners’ first nominee is a certain Joher H. Joson, according to reports.

Last weekend, some Filipinos took to Twitter to question the poll body over Pialago’s new party-list.

This came after some users spotted her tarpaulins posted in public areas.

“Diba tapos na substitution? So paanong naging nominee ito?” one user tweeted.

“Frontliner in disguise yarn?” another Twitter user asked.

Some online users criticized Pialago and the name of the sector she is supposedly seeking to represent in Congress.

“She doesn’t care about the sector. She just wants the position,” tweeted sociology instructor Ash Presto.

“What’s sad is that this party-list may win because the demand for representation of frontliners is at its peak. Yet we’re being represented by someone who was never one of us in the first place. She’s only there for the position. She doesn’t care about service,” Twitter user @The13thSwiftie said.

The Frontliners BIDA party-list is different from the United Frontliners Party-list.

The latter is a non-government organization that represents all front-liners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comelec’s response

On April 5, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez stated that there are no withdrawals and substitution of nominees beyond the set deadline so far.

The deadline for substitutions and withdrawals of all election candidates was Nov. 15, 2021.

Jimenez said this in response to election watchdog Kontra Daya’s query about it.

“Per COMELEC records, there have been no withdrawals and substitutions of party-list nominees beyond 15 November 2022,” he said.

Last February, after Pialago declared her move to run for another party-list, Jimenez said that the poll body has yet to verify if she met the deadline for substitution.

“I have yet to verify that she is in fact a nominee of that party-list and I would like to see the paperwork on that to see when the substitution petition was filed. Give me time to clarify that,” Jimenez was quoted in a report as saying.

Pialago, on the other hand, previously said that her new “family” is now the Frontliners group.

“Marami pa din po ang nagtatanong kung lumipat ba ako, hindi po, dinisqualify po ng Comelec ang Malasakit Partylist noong isang buwan kaya po kailangan maging malinaw na ang bago po nating pamilya ay ang Frontliners ang BIDA Party-list,” she said on a Facebook post.

What Comelec rules say

In section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code, it was stated that a political party or a party-list can field another candidate after the filing period of the certificates of candidacy under the following circumstances:

  • The official candidate dies
  • The official candidate gets disqualified by Comelec
  • The official candidate voluntarily withdraws or drops out from the race

This replacement should also be done until November 15 only.

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